CASALS Pablo, Song of the Birds (arr. Catalan traditional song)

The Catalan Christmas carol El cant dels ocells tells of birds singing with joy on hearing the news of the birth of Jesus. Pablo Casals made his cello arrangement after leaving Spain in protest at Franco’s dictatorship in 1939. He played it in almost all his concerts thereafter, including a memorable performance for President John F. Kennedy at the White House in 1961. The song became a musical emblem of Casals’s Catalan homeland, and his self-imposed exile. The great cellist himself made it clear that his reasons for making this arrangement were both musical and political, expressing the hope that ‘these sounds may be like a gentle echo of the nostalgia we feel for Catalonia. These sentiments must make us all work together, with the hope of a peaceful future, when Catalonia will once again be Catalonia.’  


Notes by Nigel Simeone, 2022 


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